A question for those involved with installs for new homes.
When planning/wiring your general-purpose branch circuits, how do you arrange your circuits?
Do you wire with a circuit per room (e.g. all living room lights and recepts on one circuit) or do you plan for minimal cable lengths and wiring convenience, such as putting recepts on opposite sides of an internal wall on the same circuit?
If you are in an area which requires AFCI for bedroom outlets, have you changed your layout since the introduction of the AFCI requirements to allow for this?
We always ran 2 circuits per room - one 12 awg for receptacles, one 14 awg for lights. 3/4" EMT home runs for everything. AFCI's were introduced just as we were doing our last house. We treated them the same way GFCI's in bathrooms and kitchens were - we ran gray instead of white for the neutrals.
Arrangement at the panel was:
(FUNCTION - FLOOR, ROOM, LOCATION)
LIGHTING - 2FL BEDROOM SOUTH OUTLETS - 2FL BEDROOM SOUTH
I've seen the "convenience" wiring methods used, where you feed a storage closet or the attic off of an adjacent bedroom, but I think the convenience (and safety) factor, once explained to the H.O. is worth the extra cost they'll pay over single circuits (one for the whole room).
Back in the day when we banged out semi-custom new home after new home, we used the shortest run, what ever is quickest mentality. This was EMT so we did what we could to minimize pipe.
But I have changed my philosophy over time. In the past that strategy was employed in an effort to make money. We were in the new housing rat race and you had to get on to the next one...... hurrry!
My new strategy also involves profit too. But this way is to spend more time and charge more money. A very important concept in business is what is called "perceived value". This concept can be seen in luxury items..... jewelry is a good example. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and someone is willing to pay what they "perceive" its worth to be. Make your product or service appear better than the competition and you'll get more for it, not to mention good referrals to new customers fully expecting to pay a little more to get a little more. Now this is not the case for most customers unfortunately. If it works when you flip the switch, that's fine as long as it was $3 less than the other guy. I've worked for those type, and I avoid it if possible (generally with a hefty estimate).
In getting to the question, I’ve gone on calls where the customer comment that their house is wired really screwy only to find things like different recepts in the same room on different circuits, or GFI’s in one room controlling another room, things I had done in other houses and never thought twice about. But since it didn’t make sense to the customer it was perceived as crappy work.
In general I try to keep that in the forefront of my mind when I lay out a job. Each room gets its own circuit, even if I’m tempted to take advantage of a back to back (being conduit I generally can anyway by just planning my feed through there). Bathroom recpts., even though you could line & load in the first bathroom to protect the whole circuit, if the circuit leaves the room, it gets it’s own GFI. We’d had calls that there was an outlet not working and got bewilderment from the HO that there was an outlet somewhere else in the house that controlled something else. AFCI’s didn’t change things.
That was also my reasoning to my employyes as to why we have to make our pipes look good. If the job looks good, that’s all the HO really understands, how it looks. I could be putting #14 on single pole 30 amp breakers and they wouldn’t know I was a hack. But make it straight, plumb, and parralell and you’re an artist.
One last example: We were recently doing a kitchen remodel and talking to the HO. She was telling us about her neighbor who just had her kitchen done by a contractor we knew of, and had done work for many years ago. I knew what they used to put behind the walls, and how incompetent their superintendents were. But the neighbor raved about how clean the job site was every night. I didn’t say anything and the HO summed it perfectly when she said the neighbor really had no idea if they did a good job, but they sure were clean.
I always tried to be clean, but I never really appreciated it for what it could potentially be worth. I guess I was a little sloppy if I wasn’t done and I was coming back tomorrow. From that day on I have consciously made extra effort to be clean, even if the other trades aren’t.
Thanks for the replies. There are some interesting points raised.
I hadn't really thought that a home-owner might consider it rather oddball to have recepts in one room on different circuits (kitchen excepted perhaps).
As some of you know, it's normal practice in the U.K. to have lights and receptacles on different circuits, with rings serving large areas for the latter. The typical modern two-story house has two lighting circuits, and almost all of them seem to be wired one circuit for each floor. I've often thought it better to split the lighting circuits so that each serves a part of each floor, thereby leaving at least some lights operative per floor if a circuit trips out.
I've done a similar thing on a long single-story home with central living room, splitting the lighting circuits to each end of the house but "overlapping" with the ceiling lights in the living room on one circuit and the wall lights on the other.
I can see how the feed-thru GFCI receptacle feeding outlets in another room could be confusing. If an outlet in a bathroom stopped working, it would occur to them to theck the breakers at the panel, but probably not to go searching for a GFCI in another bathroom.
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 04-30-2004).]